Parents of snowboarder sue Carrabassett Valley Academy on sex assault of daughter

Posted Oct. 02, 2012, at 5:20 p.m.
Last modified Oct. 02, 2012, at 8:27 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — The parents of a snowboarder who attended Carrabassett Valley Academy have filed a $1.35 million lawsuit in U.S. District Court alleging that the school could have prevented a sexual assault on their 16-year-old daughter by a coach.

The names of the parents and the girl, who do not live in Maine, have been redacted from the complaint. They are referred to as “John and Jane Doe” and the girl is called “JD.”

The lawsuit, filed last month by attorney D. Michael Noonan of Dover, N.H., claims that the school was negligent when it allowed Dylan Darienzzo, whose current age and town of residence are not included in the complaint, to continue coaching after it learned he had had a sexual relationship with a female student before his assault on JD.

Efforts to reach Noonan last week and Tuesday were unsuccessful.

The head of Carrabassett Valley Academy denied that the school had been negligent.

“Carrabassett Valley Academy takes the safety and security of its students seriously and has policies against the type of behavior described in the lawsuit,” Kate Webber Punderson, head of school, said Tuesday in a statement emailed to the Bangor Daily News in response to a request for a comment on the lawsuit. “Both the coach and the student should have understood that what occurred between them was wrong and a violation of CVA’s policies.”

The complaint alleges that while JD was competing at “nationals” between March 31 and April 8, 2011, at Copper Mountain in Summit County, Colo., Darienzzo, then 19, had sex with the 16-year-old girl.

He was charged last year in Summit County, Colorado, with sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust, which is a felony in that state, according to the Summit County district attorney’s office in Breckenridge, Colo. On May 29, Darienzzo pleaded guilty to third-degree assault, a misdemeanor.

He was sentenced to two years of probation in what is called a deferred disposition. If Darienzzo does not violate his probation, the charge will be dismissed on May 29, 2014.

Punderson also said that when the school learned of the incident, it “terminated its relationship with the coach, notified the student’s parents and notified the appropriate authorities.” She also said that Darienzzo was not the girl’s coach.

“The teenage coach had been employed to coach participants in the Sugarloaf/Carrabassett Valley Academy (SCVA) program and was not a coach hired to coach CVA students,” Punderson said in the email. “The SCVA program is a junior ski and snowboard seasonal instructional program run on weekends by CVA in conjunction with Sugarloaf. The student who has filed the lawsuit was a CVA student and not a SCVA student. The coach was not the CVA student’s coach.”

The lawsuit agreed that Darienzzo was an SCVA coach but claimed that his salary and expenses for coaching at nationals were paid for by the academy and he was supervised by CVA personnel.

The complaint also said that officials, coaches and instructors involved in both programs knew that Darienzzo had “conducted an intimate affair with another student at CVA” but the “SCVA kept him on as a coach, rejecting efforts by coaches to dismiss him from the program as a danger to students.”

Punderson said she could not comment further on the pending litigation.

The parents claim their daughter has suffered “grievous injuries and damages” that have affected her mental and emotional health, caused economic loss and future economic loss.

“Many of the injuries and damages are likely to be permanent,” the complaint said.

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